As the first college to perform former Broadway musical Big Fish, the Department of Theatre shares the story as this year’s Homecoming musical.
Big Fish has been a book, a movie with a star-studded cast and a Broadway musical, and now, ACU presents its first collegiate premiere.
The two leads, Tyler Hazard, senior musical theatre major from Houston, and Jonathan Steffins, sophomore musical theatre major from Bixby, Oklahoma, play father and son Edward and William Bloom.
The two students take on their roles with enthusiasm and comfort, exuding unbelievable connection with their characters.
With ever-changing visuals and an intricately designed set, the theatre department had no trouble displaying the varied and vast scenes through which the story takes place.
“Be prepared to see things that you weren’t expecting to see,” Hazard said. “With Edward’s stories, they are very tall tales and they take place in tons of different places. We have a cowboy number, a circus number, a patriotic number; there’s a lot of stuff going on.”
Big Fish takes variety to a new level with a chill-inducing, powerful performance by Sara Williams, junior musical theatre major from Abilene, as the beloved witch.
“This song has been really difficult range-wise. It was one of the things I’ve had to work really hard on to nail down,” Williams said. “I am a very powerful personality anyway, but having to add that creepier, scary aspect to it, I had to work on that as well. The costumes, makeup and hair definitely help.”
The ensemble works with unparalleled enthusiasm as they dance, sing and shout through the endless emotions of the show.
“It’s been demanding, but it’s been exhilarating,” Steffins said. “It’s been a lot of fun to work with friends in the department and create something so special. The theme pertains to everyone. It has to do with parents and family and fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. It’s everybody’s show.”
Each member of the cast dances and performs with exuberance for the story as it progresses, adopting the emotions of the moment and showing it all to the audience.
The synchronized moves of the ensemble, lead by choreographer Euan Cochrane, senior from Trophy Club, are far more impressive than many viewers know. After receiving the choreography only a week before classes began, the cast has been working tirelessly to perfect the style of the show and portray that magical effect given from the stories being told.
“This is my first time choreographing a full show,” Cochrane said. “So it’s been quite the experience and challenge as well in not performing on stage and being able to control it. It’s been a lot of fun having those experiences in seeing it on stage from tapping it out and choreographing it in my garage.”
The songs by individual cast members are wrought with emotion and show just how much the students have invested in the show. Lead Sarah Yarbrough, sophomore musical theatre major from Farmers Branch, plays Sandra Bloom, the wife of Edward Bloom, on whom the story is centered.
“It has a lot of feelings and emotions,” Yarbrough said. “It’s a lot of ups and downs, but it’s totally worth it in the end. It’s just a really cool image of life and how we as humans should approach life with wonder and childlike stories.”